Three-Dimensional Analysis of Geogrid Reinforcement used in a Pile-Supported Embankment

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Virginia Tech


Pile-supported geogrid-reinforced embankments are an exciting new foundation system that is utilized when sites are limited by a soft soil or clay. In this system, an embankment is supported by a bridging layer, consisting of granular fill and one or multiple layers of geogrid reinforcement. The bridging layer transfers the load to piles that have been driven into the soft soil or clay. The load from the embankment induces large deformations in the geogrid reinforcement, causing tensile forces in the ribs of the geogrid. Many of the current methods used to design geogrid reinforcement for this system simplify the approach by assuming that the reinforcement has a parabolic deformed shape. The purpose of this thesis is to thoroughly examine the behavior of the geogrid in a pile-supported embankment system, in an effort to determine the accuracy of the parabolic deformed shape, and identify the most important parameters that affect reinforcement design.

The geogrid was analyzed using a three-dimensional model that included a cable net to represent the geogrid and linear springs to represent the soil underneath the geogrid. A larger pressure was applied to the geogrid regions that are directly above the pile caps so that arching effects could be considered, and the stiffness of the springs on top of the pile were stiffer to account for the thin layer of soil between the geogrid and the pile cap. A Mathematica algorithm was used to solve this model using the minimization of energy method.

The results were compared to another model of this system that used a membrane to represent the geosynthetic reinforcement. Additionally, the maximum strain was compared to the strain obtained from a geosynthetic reinforcement design formula. A parametric study was performed using the Mathematica algorithm by varying the pile width, embankment pressure applied to the soil, embankment pressure applied to the pile, stiffness of the soil, stiffness of the soil on top of the pile, stiffness of the geogrid, geogrid orientation, rotational stiffness of the geogrid, and the layers of geogrid reinforcement.



Cable Net, Geosynthetic Reinforcement, Geogrid, Minimization of Energy